Each Friday I pick a song–new, old, borrowed, blue–that’s been on my mind and in my ears, and write a short post about it.

This is “Memphis Blues” by Morton Hunter:

I recently read Beale Street Dynasty by Preston Lauterbach, which is basically a history of Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, and the political machine that grew up on and around that street in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Lauterbach traces the transformation of a Beale Street song called “Joe Turney’s Been Here and Gone,” about a Tennessee penitentiary agent, into a campaign song “Mr Crump,” used as a rallying number in support of Edward Hull Crump, who would become boss of the powerful political machine that ran Memphis, and eventually into W.C. Handy’s “Memphis Blues.” While “Memphis Blues” isn’t the first blues song per se, it is the song that brought the blues, and in particular the twelve-bar, three-line structure, to a wider (and whiter) audience.

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Each Friday I pick a song–new, old, borrowed, blue–that’s been on my mind and in my ears, and write a short post about it.

This is “Dipper Mouth Blues” by King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band:

I’ve loved listening to King Oliver for years, probably more or less since I started learning to play cornet, or maybe a little bit later, when I’d listened to a lot more types of music; I’m not really sure. Recently I started to learn to play “Dipper Mouth Blues,” which I always think of as “Dippermouth Blues,” but anyway. When you learn to play a song you really start listening to it in all kinds of different and interesting ways, and one of the things I’ve really grown to love about “Dipper Mouth Blues” while stumbling through it is just how wonderfully the rhythm and darting pitches work together to create what to my mind anyway sounds like a small bird darting around.  The song is attributed to Joe Oliver, but often believed to have been composed by Louis Armstrong. It’s tremendous fun to listen to, and even tremendouser fun to (try to) play.

 

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Each Friday I pick a song–new, old, borrowed, blue–that’s been on my mind and in my ears, and write a short post about it.

This is “Better Ways” by 1000 Homo DJs:

Last weekend I went to see Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax Records, a really wonderful documentary film about Wax Trax record store in Denver, which became Wax Trax record store in Chicago, which also became Wax Trax Records, a record label that released all kinds of heavy, noisy bands in the 1980s and 1990s. The film, by Julia Nash, serves as a loving portrait of Wax Trax itself, but also of the founders of the store and label, Jim Nash (Julia’s father) and Dannie Flesher, and of their relationship as well.

Wax Trax was kind of a legendary place and label for a kid growing up in the Chicago suburbs in the late 1980s and early 1990s. My friend Rob was really into the kind of music they put out, and I spent a lot of time at his house (and other friends’ houses, but especially Rob’s) listening to KMFDM and My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult and Revolting Cocks and Ministry and and and and and and and and.  I also remember one of my classmates, Nathan, coming to school one day with both a new, better, discman (16 bit? I can’t remember) and a copy of a 1000 Homo DJs album he’d just gotten, and basically slapping the headphones on me before I could say anything and telling me I both had to hear how much better the sound was than on other discmans (discmen?) and also, more importantly, how mindblowingly awesome the song “Hey Asshole” was. Nathan was right about 1000 Homo DJs and “Hey Asshole”. My mind was blown.

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Song of the Week: “Physical” by Julianna Hatfield

by Douglas Cowie on 27 April 2018

Each Friday I pick a song–new, old, borrowed, blue–that’s been on my mind and in my ears, and write a short post about it.

This is “Physical” by Juliana Hatfield:

Physical” was a huge hit for erstwhile Greaser Olivia Newton-John in 1981, a time when your correspondent was far too young to really understand what Olivia meant about getting physical. In 1993, “Spin the Bottle,” a song with one of the greatest rhymes in pop/rock history, was a hit for erstwhile Blake Baby Juliana Hatfield (or, well, technically, The Juliana Hatfield Three, but anyway), a time when your correspondent was just the right age to understand what Juliana meant about five minutes in the closet with you (with me? No.). In 2018, Juliana Hatfield has released an album called Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John, and the long-awaited moment where your correspondent understands life* and both these songs in one place has arrived.  Thanks, Juliana!

*Your correspondent understands almost nothing about life.

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